Today BMW announced that BMW of North America President and CEO Ludwig Willisch will once again race the iconic BMW 3.0 CSL ‘Batmobile’ in the annual Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca next week. “BMW fans and I have a very emotional attachment to this important car in the history of the BMW brand in the US. I’m honored to take the wheel that has been held by the great heroes like Posey, Stuck and Redman to demonstrate the car for the fans at this historic track and event,” said Ludwig Willisch, President and CEO of BMW of North America. This BMW 3.0 CSL, No. 25, won the 1975 12 Hours of Sebring and was instrumental in establishing the ‘Bavarian Motor Works’ name to a completely new group of US auto enthusiasts as BMW of North America was being established as a subsidiary 39 years ago.
The BMW 3.0 CSL race cars were the first cars to be developed under the new BMW Motorsport GmbH subsidiary, established in 1972 and led by Jochen Neerpasch. They were also the first to sport the new official colors of BMW Motorsport—red, violet and blue.
Based on the production 3.0 CS Coupe, the aluminum skinned CSL (L = lightweight) homologation special, nicknamed the ‘Batmobile’ by its fans, formed the basis for an assault on Group 2 through Group 5 European touring car racing that would make it one of the most successful production racers of all time. In fact, the CSL continued to win races into the late 1970’s, even though production ended in 1975 to make way for its successor, the BMW 6 Series.
This 3.0 CSL (Chassis No. 2275985) was one of a group of five chassis built and campaigned by BMW Motorsport in North America in the 1975 & ’76 IMSA Camel GT Series in Group 4 specifications. The cars were powered by a 3.5 liter, 430 hp version BMW inline-6 engine with double overhead cams and four valve cylinder heads. Campaigned under the racing numbers No. 24 and No. 25, the CSL enjoyed considerable success winning at Sebring, Riverside, Laguna Seca, Daytona and Talladega in 1975. In 1976, Chassis No. 2275987 campaigned as the No. 59 car driven by Brian Redman, Peter Gregg, and John Fitzpatrick won the 24hr of Daytona. Several iconic drivers were involved in the American success of the CSL, including Hans Stuck, Sam Posey, Brian Redman, Ronnie Peterson, Dieter Quester, Benny Parsons, Peter Gregg and David Hobbs. All five chassis are still in existence.
Chassis No. 2275985 has been restored to its race number 25, 1975 12 Hours of Sebring specification and was honored this past March with a Class win at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Ludwig Willisch is scheduled to race the No. 25 BMW 3.0 CSL at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion from Thursday August 14th through Saturday August 16th.